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Expert Creates Dothraki Language for HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’
14 Apr 2010 :
Game of Thrones
David J. Peterson, an expert language creator from the Language Creation Society (LCS), has been chosen to create the Dothraki language for HBO’s upcoming fantasy series ‘Game of Thrones’.

When ‘Game of Thrones’ executive producers David Benioff (writer, Troy) and D.B. Weiss (associate producer, Tripping Forward) needed a language for the Dothraki, Martin’s race of nomadic warriors, they turned to the Language Creation Society (LCS). The LCS solicited and vetted a number of proposals for the Dothraki language from its pool of experts, with Peterson’s proposal ultimately being selected by the team.

Peterson drew inspiration from George R.R. Martin’s description of the language, as well as from such languages as Russian, Turkish, Estonian, Inuktitut and Swahili. That said, the Dothraki language is not just a collection of sounds. It has its own unique sound, extensive vocabulary of more than 1,800 words and complex grammatical structure.

“In designing Dothraki, I wanted to remain as faithful as possible to the extant material in George R.R. Martin’s series,” says Peterson, continuing: “Though there isn’t a lot of data, there is evidence of a dominant word order [subject-verb-object], of adjectives appearing after nouns, and of the lack of a copula [‘to be’]. I’ve remained faithful to these elements, creating a sound aesthetic that will be familiar to readers, while giving the language depth and authenticity. My fondest desire is for fans of the series to look at a word from the Dothraki language and be unable to tell if it came from the books or from me — and for viewers not even to realize it’s a constructed language.”

Producer D.B. Weiss has spoken of the production team’s delight at working with Peterson: “We’re tremendously excited to be working with David and the LCS,” he commented “The language he’s devised is phenomenal. It captures the essence of the Dothraki, and brings another level of richness to their world. We look forward to his first collection of Dothraki love sonnets.”

The shoot of ‘Game of Thrones’, what is expected to be the biggest television series ever filmed in Europe will commence in June in Northern Ireland and will see the return to Northern Ireland of stars Sean Bean, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Mark Addy, Kit Harrington, Jennifer Ehle, Jack Gleeson, Peter Dinklage and Harry Lloyd. It is expected that production of the series will last from June until December and will broadcast in spring 2011. Belfast’s Paint Hall has been booked by the series for the rest of the year and a mammoth set is to be built in keeping with the magnitude of the show in which each episode will be an hour long.

Examples and facts about the new Dothraki language are below:

Did you know? (Hash yer ray nesi?)

The name for the Dothraki people — and their language — derives from the verb “dothralat” (“to ride”).

The Dothraki have four different words for “carry,” three for “push,” three for “pull” and at least eight for “horse,” but no word that means “please” or “follow.”

The longest word in Dothraki is “athastokhdeveshizaroon,” which means “from nonsense.”

The words for “related,” “weighted net,” “eclipse,” “dispute,” “redhead,” “oath,” “funeral pyre,” “evidence,” “omen,” “fang” and “harvest moon” all have one element in common: “qoy,” the Dothraki word for “blood.”

Dothraki for “to dream” – “thirat atthiraride” – literally means “to live a wooden life”; in Dothraki, “wooden” (“ido”) is synonymous with “fake.”

The word for “pride” – “athjahakar” – is derived from “jahak,” the traditional long braid worn by Dothraki warriors (“lajaki”).

More information about the Dothraki language (and their love poems) will be released over the course of the series.


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